May 18, 2021, Espoo, Finland
Based on methods stemming back to the 1970s, eniferBio has developed a new and sustainable production process for a high-quality fish feed ingredient. Foods of Norway is very excited to have this expertise at hand as the start-up now becomes a partner in the centre.
eniferBio has developed a method for producing a form of single cell protein derived from fungi – the PEKILO® mycoprotein. This protein is highly nutritious and can replace other protein sources in feed for fish and farm animals. Furthermore, it is produced from underutilized and renewable organic raw material side-streams from biorefineries.
eniferBio is now teaming up with Foods of Norway, a Centre for Research-based Innovation (CRI) hosted by the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU), aiming to develop sustainable feed ingredients from local and renewable natural resources. Producing yeast from tree biomass to be used as a sustainable protein source in feed for both agriculture and aquaculture is one of the main objectives.
“eniferBio’s expertise fits perfectly into our value chain”, says Foods of Norway’s centre director, professor Margareth Øverland.
“They specialize in profitable and sustainable production of single cell protein from resources we have a lot of in Norway, our forests. Foods of Norway aims to develop technology that can contribute to a profitable production, and eniferBio produces single cell protein with cheaper substrates and side streams than we are able to today. Our new partner can help create the market we hope will be established for single cell protein as an ingredient in feed. I also believe that we can be a valuable partner for eniferBio, as we possess extensive knowledge and documentation of the nutritional value and beneficial health effects of single cell protein”, Øverland says.
Making an impact
eniferBio’s single cell protein production method was originally developed by the forest industry in Finland during the 1970s. The mycoprotein was the first of its kind to be commercialised and was used in feed for chicken and pigs on a large scale in the ‘70s and ‘80s. However, as the pulp industry developed, no more suitable side streams were being produced, and the last PEKILO® plant closed in 1991.
Today, based on the methods from the 70s, eniferBio has applied the process to fish feed production, using cheaper substrates and side-streams from the forest industry for an economically viable process.
“It is a well-validated process”, says CEO and CTO of eniferBio, Simo Ellilä.
“We already had the know-how and resources, and with new biotechnology we have improved the process and the product. A key enabler for this venture has been that we have been able to increase the protein content in the product”.
Ellilä explains how their process, along with the availability of biorefinery side streams throughout Europe, could really make an impact when it comes to self-sufficiency and less need to import feed ingredients from other parts of the world. This leads to a higher level of sustainability, one of the main drivers for the start-up company. Ellilä and his colleagues are very excited to take part in the ventures of Foods of Norway.
“We want to develop our product towards fish feed, and Norway is the biggest salmon producer in the world. That is motivation in itself. But also, between the vast expertise in biorefinery and aquaculture among the centre’s partners, and with NMBU driving this as a high-level research institution, we are very excited to take part in the research in Foods of Norway”, Ellilä states.
- Production of the PEKILO® protein requires no arable land as it takes place in closed bioreactors, making full use of the nutrients and water needed.
- The process is based on using a fast-growing micro fungus highly tolerant to many growth inhibitors. The fungus converts organic substances into nutritious cell mass at high yield and productivity. The process provides a valuable product, while reducing costs associated with using water in the process. The solution allows modern biorefineries to convert their underutilized side streams into valuable single cell protein.
- eniferBio was re-established in 2019 as a spin off from VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland.
- The CRI Foods of Norway hosted by the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU) aims to develop local feed resources from blue and green biomass using new technology and methods.